TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Friday 5 August 2016








SUBJECTS: Labor's plan for schools; Banking Royal Commission; Kevin Rudd; State Attorneys-General in Canberra to discuss post-sentence preventative detention; Changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

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TRANSCRIPT: Sky News PM Agenda, Wednesday 3 August 2016





SUBJECTS: Release of preliminary NAPLAN results; the Government's cuts to schools; Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report: Indigenous recognition in the Constitution

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC AM, Wednesday 3 August 2016






SUBJECTS: Release of preliminary NAPLAN results; the Government's cuts to schools


MICHAEL BRISSENDEN, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for joining us.


BRISSENDEN: How do you explain the plateauing of results here, because after all the first 3 years of the Gonski model had gone ahead as negotiated by the previous Labor Government?

PLIBERSEK: Well the first 3 years of the Gonski school education funding were important, but they were just a fraction of what we intended to do in our schools to lift teacher quality, to invest more in individual students, to make sure that kids who were falling behind in maths or reading were able to catch up, to make sure that kids who were gifted and talented were extended. This is not a reflection of the implementation of the Gonski School Funding arrangement, it’s a reflection of the fact that this Government has failed to fully implement a needs-based funding system. It’s very disappointing to see that Australian schools have plateaued in this way and I think that the Minister likes to say that it’s not all about money; that’s just a cover up for the fact that they’re ripping $29 billion out of our schools. Of course it’s not all about money, it’s about what we do with that money in our schools to lift our standards.

BRISSENDEN: But again, the money that’s been spent so far – the 23% funding increase as the Minister points to – is pretty much what either side of Government had committed to up to this point, isn’t it? And yet, we still see a plateau.

PLIBERSEK: And we know that years 5 and 6 of the Gonski school funding -

BRISSENDEN: Yeah but we haven’t gotten there yet, have we? 

PLIBERSEK: - was due to ramp up very substantially and that’s where we expected to see a take-off in improvements. But there’s a couple of other things that I’d say Michael that are very important here. This Government came in saying that they’d be on a unity ticket with Labor on school funding, and then they did a couple of things that were very importantly different from what we were proposing. First of all, there’s the future funding cuts that we’ve talked about - $29 billion – but they also retreated from the demands that we made of states, about how they would use that extra funding, the transparency and accountability measures that we had. And in fact they gave extra funding to some states with no strings attached that saw some states then decrease their own investment in education at a state level. So, for a party that says this is not all about funding, they’ve been pretty quick to spray around the extra funding without the extra accountability measures that would have driven higher student performance, that we -

BRISSENDEN: So they should be tougher on the states, is that what you’re saying?

PLIBERSEK: No, they should have a cooperative relationship with the states that actually ensures that we invest extra funding in what we know works. We know that it works to invest in teacher quality, to give teachers the supports they need in classrooms to self-evaluate and continue to improve their own teaching. We know what works is investing one-on-one with kids who are falling behind. And that’s happening at a school-level – I can see improvements as I visit schools. I went to a school in my own electorate last week where they’ve invested the early years of their extra Gonski funding into speech pathology and occupational therapy. So kids who are starting school who couldn’t speak a sentence or hold a pencil properly were catching up with their peers. That’s how you launch a kid on a lifelong learning journey. We’ve seen schools across Australia that have invested in more individual attention that are seeing extraordinary, outstanding results in improving, not just their NAPLAN performance – that’s only one measure of performance – but certainly improving their NAPLAN performance, but improving the engagement of kids at school, the attendance of children at school.

BRISSENDEN: Much of what you said there basically, essentially, have been said by the Minister, Simon Birmingham in the previous interview. Because he points to better targeting incentives for teachers, better targeting of spending, early intervention – all those areas where the Government says it’s working hard to improve.

PLIBERSEK:  But they’re doing it at the same time as cutting $29 billion from our schools. You can’t achieve better results while cutting funding. This is the smoke and mirrors trick of Simon Birmingham, he says it’s not all about -

BRISSENDEN: But funding hasn’t been cut though, has it?

PLIBERSEK:  $29 billion will be cut from our schools over coming years, compared with what the Government agreed to do, which was fully implement the Gonski School Funding arrangement, they said they were on a unity ticket with Labor on that. They will in fact cut the guts out of our schools. They’ve also allowed states to cut their school funding, they’ve also abandoned a number of national partnership agreements with our schools. So this is a, you know, distraction technique. It’s a, “look over here!” technique, “it’s not about the extra money” while cutting extra money.

BRISSENDEN: OK. We are talking though about the money that’s been spent to this point and the results that we’ve seen up to this point, aren’t we? I mean we’re not really talking about what’s going to happen in years 5 and 6 of the proposed Gonski model, we’re talking about what’s happened to this point and the Government says funding is increased 23%, it’s spending $16 billion a year now – it’s a lot of money and funding has increased. But yet, we’re still seeing a plateauing.

PLIBERSEK:  And you’re talking about a very short timeframe in the life of a school, even in the life of a child. To see that turnaround in a year or two, you can’t expect to see that in national results. We are at the very beginning of implementing a needs-based funding system that would invest the most in the kids who need the most help. We’ve only just started on that journey – to say that these NAPLAN results are a reflection of a needs-based funding model is just not true. We haven’t even launched the full needs-based funding model yet.

BRISSENDEN: So you’re argument is essentially unless you do substantially increase the money along the lines of the Gonski model, you won’t get an improvement?

PLIBERSEK:  My argument is we have to do better in our schools, we have to invest more in supporting teaching and learning. More individual attention, more tailored support, more extra support for literacy and numeracy for kids who are falling behind, more extension activities, better support for principals to make sure that they can be the most effective school leaders. That’s where we need to invest: making sure that science teachers actually have science qualifications when they’re teaching science – that takes extra funding. It’s not just about tipping extra money in, it’s about what we do with that funding. This Government is not pursuing excellence in schools, because you can’t do it at the same time as cutting funding.

BRISSENDEN: Ok Tanya Plibersek, we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us.

PLIBERSEK:  Thank you Michael.



TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Townsville, Friday 29 July 2016




FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: The federal seat of Herbert; the Coalition not supporting Kevin Rudd's nomination for UN Secretary-General; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system.



JOURNALIST: So Cathy, there’s no result yet?


CATHY O’TOOLE, CANDIDATE FOR HERBERT: No but why I’m here today is to welcome the Acting Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek here to Townsville on this momentous occasion for us, this 50 year celebration of the Lavarack Barracks. It’s really fantastic to have Tanya here with us to celebrate what is for Townsville a demonstration of a huge commitment to defence personnel, and I’d just like to introduce Tanya.


TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you. It’s a delight to be here with Labor’s candidate for Herbert, Cathy O’Toole and to be here for the 50th anniversary of the Lavarack Barracks. 50 years ago, 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt opened these Barracks and a lot has changed in Australia in the last 50 years. But what hasn’t changed is the contribution the Lavarack Barracks make to Australia’s national security and to the society and the economy of Townsville. This is the largest facility of its type in Australia. Thousands of people live here today, about 8,000 people - armed services personnel and civilians. But the contribution is a much greater contribution than that because thousands of people have passed through these Barracks over the last 50 years. They take with them fond memories of Townsville, fond memories of the time that they spent here, and they leave behind them a contribution to the local community and to the local economy as well. It's a real pleasure to have been invited today to represent the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, at this very special occasion, and I bring the best wishes of the opposition with me today.


JOURNALIST: The seat of Herbert has almost been declared. Were you hoping to be celebrating a victory here as well?


PLIBERSEK: Well, I am celebrating today. I'm celebrating the history of Lavarack Barracks and it's a proud history at that. Of course, we are watching with enormous interest the finalisation of the count in Herbert. And we have very high hopes - Cathy O'Toole is a marvellous candidate who's run a marvellous campaign with a dedicated, hard-working, enthusiastic campaign team, and the support of the local community. So our hopes are great. But of course, the result hasn't yet been declared and we'll wait with interest until it is officially declared.


JOURNALISTIs it a concern that the Coalition is talking already about legal challenges to the result should Cathy O'Toole win?


PLIBERSEK: Look, it’s not the day really to go into those sorts of details. We're watching, as I say, with great interest for the declaration of the poll. We are a very proud of the campaign that Cathy has run. Anything more than that, we're just waiting on advice from the AEC.


JOURNALIST: If we could turn to other things - Labor elected Kevin Rudd as their leader. He won the election and was knifed before his first term was up. Is it hypocritical then for the Labor Party to criticise the way he's been treated by the Coalition?


PLIBERSEK: Kevin Rudd is a distinguished Australian. He was a diplomat of many years' standing before he ever went into politics. He's an acknowledged expert on China, on Asia more generally. His advice is sought around the world. He's been Foreign Minister, he's been Prime Minister. And frankly, what is incredible about the Government's decision not to back Kevin Rudd is that this would bring such credit to Australia, to have a former Australian Prime Minister as the head of the United Nations would bring such credit to Australia. It would be undeniably a great thing for Australia's international reputation, for our authority on the world stage. Sadly, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister show they have no authority at home. The Foreign Minister clearly made a case to her Cabinet colleagues that Kevin Rudd should have the endorsement of the Australian Government for this absolutely important, vital role. The Prime Minister is not able to assert his authority in the Cabinet, to bring the nasties into line. Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, the right-wing extremists in the Liberal Party have got the Prime Minister on a short leash. He was not able to insist that what any right-thinking Australian would think, that an Australian should be backed for an international job like this. He was not able to get that through his Cabinet. It shows the weakness of the Prime Minister, it shows the weakness of the Foreign Minister.


JOURNALIST: Will it have an impact on the way Labor approaches future nominations from the other side of politics?


PLIBERSEK: Labor has always been bipartisan in areas like this. We appointed several former ministers, Coalition ministers to important posts overseas. Tim Fischer, for example, Brendan Nelson and others were appointed with Labor's blessing, or allowed to complete postings with Labor’s blessing. We appointed Peter Costello, the former Treasurer, to the Future Fund here in Australia. We've never played politics with the national interest. We've always put the national interest first. It's a real shame that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop don't have the courage to put the national interest first.


JOURNALIST: Just on that - the ALP refused to nominate Peter Costello for the International Monetary Fund post in 2011. Are you really able to claim a bipartisan record on this issue?


PLIBERSEK: I mean really, this is pretty extraordinary thing because this story has been going around, and my information is that Peter Costello never formally contacted the Government and asked for a nomination. We appointed him to the Future Fund. We appointed him to one of the most prestigious domestic responsibilities that we could have appointed him to. And I certainly haven't seen any nomination from Peter Costello for this role. You have to have a look at the people that we did appoint. We appointed Brendan Nelson, we appointed Tim Fischer. We appointed a number of coalition figures to very important jobs overseas without having our arms twisted, without any sort of lobbying. We did it because it was the right thing to do.


JOURNALIST: Indigenous groups are angry about the lack of consultation over the terms of reference of the Royal Commission. Do you feel like this process has been rushed?


PLIBERSEK: I do feel like this process has been rushed. The Government had the complete support of the Opposition for a Royal Commission. We absolutely, 100 per cent, agree with the government that there needs to be a Royal Commission into what has happened in the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. Several Government ministers claimed that there was consultation with the Opposition and with Indigenous groups. That certainly hasn't been the case. We were not consulted on the terms of reference. We were not consulted on the appointment of a Commissioner. What's worse is that Indigenous Australians, the people who are best placed to say how we can have the most thorough, the most helpful, the most productive Royal Commission, they were not consulted either. I think it's time that the Government reconsider some of the process around this Royal Commission, act in a bipartisan manner in the way that Labor did in establishing the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and go back to the drawing board, including by appointing an additional Commissioner, an Aboriginal Australian. We've got many highly qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who could be a Royal Commissioner, and we'd certainly like to see the appointment of at least one additional Commissioner. We also would like to say that one of the most important things about this Royal Commission is that people living across the Northern Territory have the opportunity to make their case, to state their piece, to have their say. We absolutely need to make sure that that will happen, and if the Government continues in the way that it has started, without consultation, rushing the terms of reference, rushing these announcements, I think it's possible that we won't get the thorough result that all Australians want from this Royal Commission.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Northern Territory Government counter-suing two boys who were tear-gassed by prison guards at the Don Dale Detention Centre?


PLIBERSEK:  Look, I'm sorry, I don't know the details of the legal case. What I would say is the images that we saw on Monday night on the Four Corners program were shocking in the extreme. Shocking in the extreme. With very large adults attacking very slight young men, young boys. I would - I think it's absolutely vital that we, in the first instance, investigate the incidents that we saw on Monday night, make sure that those young men are safe from further violence, and from further victimisation. We should ensure in the medium to longer term that these sorts of incidents can't happen again. Thank you.




TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Brisbane, Friday 29 July 2016








FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Kevin Rudd's nomination for UN Secretary-General; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system.


PETER COALDRAKE, VICE-CHANCELLOR, QUT: It is my pleasure to welcome to QUT this morning, the acting Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek who is here with Terri Bulter who is the Opposition spokesperson for Universities and Senator-elect, Murray Watt. They are here at the Science and Engineering Centre and here at the Cube. And in a sense, what goes on in this building is a metaphor for what should be going on for research and science in Australia. So welcome, Tanya.

TERRI BUTLER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES: Thanks, Peter. It's actually such a pleasure to be here at the Queensland University of Technology, which is well known for being a university that is a leader in science and technology. Less well known for being my alma mater but it is something that has a good and strong and fond place in my heart as well. It's a great opportunity for us to see the work that's being done in science and technology here at QUT. As the new spokesperson for universities from Labor, as the Assistant Shadow Minister for Universities, it's particularly wonderful for me to get the opportunity to come here and see the work that's being done for this university and for the technology of the future. So it's wonderful to be here and it's particularly a pleasure to be here with Tanya Plibersek, the acting Leader of the Opposition. Tanya is someone who has a great interest in the role of universities, not just for the strong economic benefits that we get through universities, not just because universities are such an important part of our exports as Australians, not just because universities help individual kids to benefit from this nation's prosperity, but also because universities actually help build equality in Australia by making sure that all kids, or should make sure that all kids, regardless of their background, get the opportunity to benefit from our nation's economic growth and our prosperity. And so it's been wonderful to be here with Tanya today and of course with Murray Watt, Senator-elect for Queensland. I'd now like you to welcome Tanya to the microphone, thanks very much.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much, Terri, and thanks very much to Vice Chancellor Coaldrake for welcoming us here today. It is wonderful to be here with him, his staff and also, with Terri Bulter and Murray Watt. This university is doing what we hope all universities will do; that's focussing on excellence and equity. This is a university that puts a lot of emphasis on making sure that kids from poorer backgrounds, from regional areas, from families where they're the first in their generation to go to university, are able to have a successful university education here. That's obviously transformational for the lives of those individual students. But what we also want to see from universities is investment in excellence. The sort of excellence that drives productivity and economic growth for our nation. Today, we've seen upstairs some incredible science, some science that will change the lives, particularly of children who are born, for example, with a missing part of their body, a missing ear in the case that we were looking at, looking at the sort of bio-engineering that would mean the replacement of that ear. You can imagine the kind of difference that can make in the life of an individual child. But it's that sort of research and innovation and the commercialisation of those discoveries that will also underpin our economic productivity and our wealth as a nation in the future. 

So what we're doing today is looking at this combination of equity and excellence that we expect across our university sector, that we hope for and will build towards across the university sector. We're also here today to reiterate the fact that under Labor there will never be $100,000 university degrees in an American-style user-pays system, where if you're lucky enough to have wealthy parents you can make it to university, but if you're an ordinary kid from an ordinary family, no matter how hard you work, no matter how good you are at school, you will be put off going to university by the lifetime costs of that university degree.

We want to make sure that every kid in Australia has a great education through their school years. But that they can go on beyond their schooling to TAFE or to university, to further study, to make the most of their advantages, to make the most of their interest, to pursue the things that they're passionate about, to get a well-paid, highly-skilled job in the future. So thanks very much. Happy to take any questions on higher education or the issues of the day.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Kevin Rudd should be captain's pick for Malcolm Turnbull?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I absolutely think that Kevin Rudd is a distinguished Australian: successful diplomat, successful Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and it would be extraordinary if the Government didn't support such a distinguished Australian. Kevin Rudd is an acknowledged international expert on Asia, on China in particular. His advice is sought by governments around the world. The work he's been doing since he left Australia shows that he is internationally seen as a foreign affairs expert and he's eminently well qualified for the position that he's seeking.

JOURNALIST: Don't you think his management style and skills raises some questions and we've seen examples of that in the past.

JOURNALIST: Peter Garrett said he was a megalomaniac, Conroy said he had contempt for Cabinet, Gillard said operating style dysfunctional and Burke said impossible micromanagement. Yet you support him in being in the UN, how do you think he will deal with those people behind closed doors if he can't deal with your party behind closed doors.

PLIBERSEK: Well I'm sure that Kevin's experience as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, as a diplomat of decades of standing would be very well put to use at the United Nations. The United Nations is a large organisation with reach right around the world. Intervening to support peace and prosperity, making sure that we reduce conflict, that we grow economic strength. I think Kevin's experiences would be very well put to use at the United Nations. And I think the real question is, given that the Foreign Minister clearly believes that it would be in Australia's national interest to have an Australian serving in such an important role, whether she has the power in the Cabinet to back her pick or whether Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop are captive to the right wing of the Liberal Party who are prepared to put petty politics ahead of the national interest.

JOURNALIST: If the PM supports the nomination, what should happen next?

PLIBERSEK: Well, if the Prime Minister supports the nomination of Kevin Rudd for this position, Kevin is very well able to campaign with the leaders of the countries that will be making this decision in coming months. I'm sure that Australian diplomats would be very enthusiastic about supporting the nomination of an Australian for such an important role.

JOURNALIST: Isn't this a sign of how divisive Kevin Rudd is three years after he lost the federal election?

PLIBERSEK: No, I think this is a sign that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop don't have the strength to influence their Cabinet in the way that they should be able to. There is no question that it is in our national interest to have an Australian in this vital role. There is no-one who could argue that it is anything other than in our national interest to have an Aussie doing this job. If the cabinet don't back Kevin Rudd for this role, it will show that they are putting their pettiness and their political interests ahead of the national interest. 

JOURNALIST: Is he a better choice than Helen Clark? 

PLIBERSEK: I think Kevin Rudd is the best choice. He's the Australian in an international contest. I would always back the Aussie in an international contest.

JOURNALIST: Can you address his negotiating skills behind closed doors and what they'll be like at the UN? Because that's where all the criticism came from your party about what he was like behind closed doors, not how he was in public?

PLIBERSEK: I'm sure that Kevin has all of the skills necessary to undertake this role with distinction and I'm sure that every sensible Australian would see the benefit to our national reputation, to our standing in the world in having one of our own in such an important position.

JOURNALIST: So his negotiating skills aren't relevant then, is that what you're saying?

PLIBERSEK: I'm saying that he has all of the skills necessary to do the job. I don't doubt that he could do it for a moment. He was a very successful diplomat for many decades. He's very well regarded internationally. He has received the support of people on our side of politics but also Liberals like Brendan Nelson. He's got the support of international figures, leaders and foreign ministers of nations around the world. I don't doubt for a moment that Kevin Rudd could do this job.

JOURNALIST: If his nomination is blocked, do you think there would be retribution further down the track if Labor is returned to power and, for instance, Tony Abbott puts up his hand for a similar kind of job?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we don't play those games. When we were last in Government, we supported the nomination of a number of very senior Liberals to very important roles overseas. Brendan Nelson, Tim Fisher and others were asked to serve overseas by a Labor Government despite the fact they came from conservative backgrounds. We have - we appointed Peter Costello to the Future Fund. We are prepared to back the best person for the job. It would be terrific if the Government made a clear statement today that they are prepared to back an Australian for a position that would bring a great deal of credit to our nation.

JOURNALIST: Is it embarrassing - just on the royal commission, the Federal Government says it doesn't want the royal commission to be delayed by consultations, isn't that fair given how lengthy that would be?

PLIBERSEK: No, it is a simple fact that Government ministers have said that the Opposition has been consulted and Indigenous Australians have been consulted about these terms of reference and it is simply not the case that that has happened. Labor has been very clear from day one that we back a Royal Commission. We're not interested in delays, we're interested in getting to the bottom of the shocking failures of the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory, just as the Government is. We are absolutely prepared to work with them hand in hand to ensure that both the terms of reference and the appointment of the commissioner are unequivocally supported across the board. We had Government ministers saying that the Opposition was being consulted and that Indigenous leaders were being consulted and that hasn't happened and that is deeply, deeply disappointing. I would certainly say that it would have been a very good idea to consult with Indigenous leaders and I would certainly say that it would be a good idea to consider the appointment of an additional commissioner, an Aboriginal commissioner to this Royal Commission. I think we would see a better result in the long term if the Government paused now, reconsidered the rushed job they have done on the terms of reference and took some soundings. I said to Prime Minister Turnbull yesterday when he rang me about this, after the terms of reference had been set and after the commissioner had been selected, that Labor was very prepared to work cooperatively to make sure that all the initial decisions were right and had broad spread public support.

JOURNALIST: Who do you think that Indigenous Commissioner should -

PLIBERSEK: Can I just finish this comment? And Prime Minister Turnbull did say to me that it was possible to amend the terms of reference during the course of the Royal Commission should that become necessary. I am disappointed that that is the attitude. I would have thought it would be good to get this right the first time.

JOURNALIST: Who do you suggest that Indigenous commissioner should be?

PLIBERSEK: There's a number of distinguished Australians who could do the job. I don't think it's appropriate for me to start naming names. I think the better thing to do would be for the Prime Minister to have a talk with the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, or with me while I'm acting this week, and determine one of any number of people who could do it.



TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Thursday 28 July 2016






SUBJECTS: Domestic violence; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; Kevin Rudd's nomination for UN Secretary-General.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRANDYLER: [audio cuts in] things I said to Karen earlier that it would be great if your service didn’t exist. But there is a need for it and today has been an opportunity for myself as the local Member but Tanya as the Shadow Minister to get briefed on the needs of these services and I might ask Karen to make some remarks.

KAREN WILLS, EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Thank you very much. It's a great honour to have both Anthony and Tanya with us today. The work that our counselling team does is often difficult and always challenging, and so it's great to see people of the calibre of our two representatives here coming today being interested in what people are doing, talking to our counsellors and expressing their support of this service. So I thank both of you very much for that, I absolutely guarantee this will be the topic of conversation for quite a considerable while to come in our organisation.

In Australia one in four women will experience sexual assault or domestic violence at some stage in their adult life. Last year 79 women lost their lives at the hands of the person who says I love you. The most common reason for people aged - for women aged 24-45 in this country to be hospitalised is as a result of domestic violence. One in four children in our country will grow up witnessing violence, usually by their father against their mother.

We have a massive problem and we absolutely need to do a whole range of things to change that and firstly preventing the violence is absolutely critical. But when that violence occurs we also need to make sure that we have high quality, professional services to support that person and their dependants towards safety and recovery. 1800RESPECT and NSW Rape Crisis which are two of our services, that’s absolutely what we aim to achieve. Thank you to all of those people in Australia who support our service and also to those who are experiencing violence, please consider, pick up that phone, have a chat, because perhaps there are options and ways towards safety and recovery and a life of absolute marvellousness, which of course is what everybody should have a right to expect for themselves. Thank you.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING OPPOSITION LEADER: Thanks so much Karen. I want to start by thanking Anthony for hosting me today in his electorate. This part of the electorate used to be in Sydney and it's always great to be in Balmain, and it's really wonderful to know that this part of my electorate has gone on to be so well represented by the Member for Grayndler - as part of the seat of Grayndler.

I also want to pay particular tribute to Karen Wills, who has been a force to be reckoned with for decades when it comes to issues around violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence. The 1800RESPECT service is one that did come out of the National Plan on Violence Against Women and their children, which I developed when I was the Minister for Women. But the work that Karen has done
precedes 1800RESPECT, it goes right back to the roots of the New South Wales rape crisis counselling service. She has been absolutely instrumental in legal changes here in New South Wales, in changes to community attitudes, changes to policing practice and legal practice, and this most recent service that she’s been involved with the 1800 Respect and online counselling has benefited enormously from her experience, her leadership, her advocacy. This is a service that exists for people who are experiencing violence, or friends or family members of someone who’s experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. To be able to call to get trauma counselling, to get advice about how to proceed to the next stage of rebuilding their lives or how to help someone in their family or a friend who's experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. We could not survive as a community without this service and I am so proud of the work that's being done. This is one of three services, three foundational services that were funded out of the National Plan on Violence Against Women and their Children - ANROWS and Our WATCH are two other services and before the last election Labor committed to funding these services to the end of the period of the national plan which is 2021-22 because the services have worked and the idea that they should be forced to re-tender for work that their they’re doing so well just doesn't make sense. I don't doubt for one second that the whole of the Federal Parliament is absolutely united in our wish as members of Parliament to see a community that is safe for women and children. Where domestic violence and sexual assault are a thing of the past. I sincerely believe that all members of Parliament remain united in this aim. But it takes more that goodwill to deliver this in the Australian community, it will always take better resourcing.  So resourcing for 1800 Respect, Our WATCH, ANROWS, that’s critical. Resourcing for legal services that help women who've experienced violence bring their perpetrators to justice. Emergency accommodation, making sure that people have a safe place to go if there's violence in the home. All of these are critical and they are areas where the current Government has let down the Australian community. I don't doubt that the will is there but the will has to be backed up with the resourcing to make sure that we have great services like this and front line emergency response, that we have homelessness services that can provide safe shelter for people fleeing violence, we have legal services that ensure that victims have true access to justice. So thank you to Karen and everyone working at 1800 Respect. I am very happy now to answer questions about this service or about issues of the day.  

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek you've worked very closely with Kevin Rudd. Just on his bid to become Secretary General, do you think that he has the right temperament for that job?

PLIBERSEK: I don’t think I could imagine anyone who is better qualified for this job than Kevin Rudd. He was a distinguished former Prime Minister of Australia. A very successful Foreign Minister. A diplomat, a very successful diplomat with decades worth of diplomatic experience. He's acknowledged in the United States as an expert on China and Asia more generally. His skill is acknowledged around the world. I don't doubt that he should receive the full support of the Australian Government and frankly I am mystified that there would even be a proposition that the Australian Government is not backing the Australian candidate for such a distinguished position.

If the Cabinet today decides not to offer its endorsement to Kevin Rudd, it will show that the petty, small-minded right-wing of the Liberal Party have Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop on a short leash. Julie Bishop as the Foreign Minister absolutely has the ability to make an important decision like this in her own portfolio, and her Cabinet should back her in this position. Malcolm Turnbull should have the courage to stare down the extremists in his own party and put the national interest first instead of putting his factional fears above the national interest.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe they're playing politics if they didn't do that?

I think it would be small-minded, I think it should be short term, I think it would be embarrassing for the nation, I think it would be misguided and I think it would be wrong.

JOURNALIST: On the Royal Commission into juvenile justice centres in the Northern Territory, have you seen any of the terms of reference?

PLIBERSEK: No. I haven't seen the terms of reference. Let's go back to the beginning on this. The footage that Australia saw on Monday night was deeply disturbing. There is something very wrong with the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. And our first responsibility is to absolutely ensure that those young men whose abuse was documented on Monday night are safe, that they are protected wherever they are at the moment and that proper consideration is being given to how they can be helped to rebuild their lives after the abuse that they've suffered. Labor has been absolutely unequivocal in our support for the Government in its proposal for a Royal Commission. We believe that it is critical that we don't just look at the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. Of course that must be a large part of this investigation - what went wrong in the Don Dale facility for the sort of levels of violence we saw on Monday night to be occurring, it seems quite regularly. But we do need to look deeper than that as well. We need to look at what is going wrong that children as young as ten or eleven are ending up in the juvenile justice system. What is going wrong in our communities and in our families that these kids are ending up in the juvenile justice system? And I think it is extraordinary that the Prime Minster has already ruled out looking more broadly at other States, looking at juvenile justice in other States. My experience is that when you have a story like this, that is so shocking, it often encourages other victims to come forward. We certainly saw that with the institutional - the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that the more people came forward, the more people who had kept secret their experiences were encouraged to trust that perhaps their complaints would now be taken seriously. It is very possible that in coming days, and weeks, and months we will hear more than once of similar experiences in other places, things that have happened to other children in the juvenile justice system. And we have to be open to investigating those as well - to making sure that if there are systemic failings in other States that we are able to examine that. We have been told that these issues are going to the Cabinet today. We have been told that - told by the media I don't mean contacted directly - told by the media that both the terms of reference and possibly even the selection of the Royal Commissioner will happen today at Cabinet. I am deeply disappointed that, given how bipartisan Labor has been in supporting this Royal Commission, the Attorney-General has not consulted properly with us about possible terms of reference, about possible commissioners - a commissioner or commissioners - for this Royal Commission because we want it to work. We want it to get to the bottom of the systemic failings in juvenile justice.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that the Northern Territory Government should be excluded from any other role than as a witness?

PLIBERSEK: I think any Royal Commission should not be influenced in any way by any government. The Government's role is to set up the Royal Commission, to choose the commissioner, to set the terms of reference and then any Royal Commission should be completely independent of any interference by any government - Federal or State or Territory.

JOURNALIST: Colin Barnett obviously had some interesting words for his counterpart in the Northern Territory there. Do you mirror that? Do you agree with his statements?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I haven't seen the details of the statement, so I can't comment.

JOURNALIST: Are there any current or former Labor representatives who knew about the abuse?

PLIBERSEK: Again, I can't comment but that is exactly the sort of thing that a Royal Commission should look at. And I have been very clear that Labor is not running away from taking our share of the responsibility of systemic failings. The reason we support a Royal Commission is because we have to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong here. I think it is absolutely critical that we don't engage in a blame game. What is important here is protecting children from physical abuse, from emotional abuse, from isolation, from what seems from the evidence we saw on Monday night, to torture.

JOURNALIST: Just lastly back on Kevin Rudd, given his rather colourful way of describing the Chinese in relation to rats, do you think that would have damaged his ability to get this job?

PLIBERSEK: I know that Kevin Rudd is very well regarded by the Chinese leadership. He's got excellent connections that he has built up over very many decades and I don't doubt for a moment that he could be a very successful UN Secretary-General. I am sure that the connections that he's made in China, in the United States, across Europe, right through Asia, right around the world would serve him very well. Thanks everyone.



TRANSCRIPT: ABC Radio National Breakfast, Wednesday 27 July 2016





SUBJECTS: Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; education.


ELLEN FANNING, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, should Dylan Voller be released immediately?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well it’s very difficult for me to comment on the individual cases, but what I would say absolutely is that our first and most important immediate responsibility is to make sure that all of the children and young people who were shown in that footage on Monday night are safe. I can’t say from this distance the best way of ensuring their safety but that’s our first responsibility.

FANNING: When politicians tell us the Four Corners footage shocked them, and when you look at the list of Inquiries that have gone on – headlines on the ABC, views on this program, stories in the newspapers – how can anyone be shocked?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the Four Corners investigation certainly brought home in a very real way, because of the footage that was shown of the violence against those children, the extent of the problem, the brutality of the treatment that they were receiving. I think the point you’re making is how is it that we’ve gone so long with this happening, and no one has taken action? And I think that that’s a very important question for this Royal Commission. These children have been failed by the political class, I’m happy to take my share of the responsibility for that. I think it’s important that the Commonwealth and the Territory Government both examine the information that each level of Government had and why action wasn’t taken. But we need to look beyond that as well, to the systemic failures in schooling systems, in the health system, in housing. We need to ask ourselves what’s happening in our families and communities that 10 year old children are ending up in places like this.

FANNING: Certainly the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion was surprised by what was revealed on Four Corners, if revealed is the right word. This is part of his press conference yesterday:

*Excerpt of Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion press conference plays*

FANNING: “It hadn’t piqued his interest sufficiently”. I mean this is a man who lives in Darwin; he knew about the issue, he’s the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, and yet he didn’t act?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think people will make their own judgements about that.

FANNING: What judgement do you make about it?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s inadequate, but he’s not the only person who has let these kids down; we each need to bear a share of responsibility for it.

FANNING: You know, the Minister has been criticised by Indigenous groups for his handling of his portfolio. There will be calls for him to go.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think he’s been a completely inadequate Indigenous Affairs Minister. We’ve seen about $560 million cut from this portfolio. We’ve seen reduced access to justice, we’ve seen the offer of preschool for all 4 year olds across the country under threat, particularly in remote communities, we’ve seen family and community centres under threat or closing. I mean, I think there are a number of reasons why I would criticise this Minister, but I think it is unfair to hold him solely responsible for what is obviously a deep and systemic failure that the Northern Territory Government should also bear its share of responsibility for, and previous governments too. This is not something that’s previously -

FANNING: Previous Labor Governments?

PLIBERSEK:  I’m not shying away from that. I think this is the reason that a Royal Commission is the right response in this instance. This is a long-term and deep, systemic failure. We need to look at what’s happening inside these institutions, but we also need to look at how are we failing kids that they are ending up in places like this at such young ages.

FANNING: It’s been reported that Adam Giles, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory once said he wanted to be Corrections Minister - he’s taken over that role yesterday - and he said he wanted the job so he could put all the bad criminals in a “big concrete hole”, even if he broke every clause in the UN Convention on the rights of the child. Is Mr Giles fit to be the Corrections Minister, or indeed the Chief Minister?

PLIBERSEK:  Again, I think people will make their own judgments about that. I don’t want to use this as a political point scoring exercise, but it is plain that is we have 10 and 11 year old kids in lock ups like this, if we brutalise them, if we deny them an education and then we put them back on the streets again, what we’re breeding are more brutal criminals who understand that if you’re strong and you’re in a position of power, the way you use that strength and power is to be violent against people who are smaller and weaker than you. Is that really what we want to teach kids who are obviously already from troubled backgrounds, from situations that I’m sure most of us cannot imagine? The fact that they’re ending up at 10 or 11 engaged with the juvenile justice system in this way means that they have had years of unimaginable treatment before that.

FANNING: Mr Giles has pointed out that Federal Labor was in charge in Government in Canberra when some of this happened; you’ve said candidly the “political class” bears responsibility. Coming back to the Northern Territory, if you have a Government here that creates a deliberate system in which children can be treated in these ways – mechanical devices – an opposition in the NT unable to muster a really focused campaign to wake people up to this, should self-government in the Top End be suspended in the public interest, because you have to say, if the Top End were run form Canberra, this wouldn’t be happening?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I hope it wouldn’t be happening and this is the point – you know, again we are in a discussion, Ellen, about whether it’s the Federal responsibility or the State responsibility, or the Conservatives or Labor – none of that matters -

FANNING: I’m actually coming to the competence of the political class in the Territory as a whole.

PLIBERSEK:  I think it’s a big call to say that a State or Territory can’t govern itself because of even a catastrophic failure like this.

FANNING: I assume that if you were asked the question in the Parliament about whether mechanical restraints should be used on children, you’d have a pretty quick -

PLIBERSEK:  Clearly no. And nor should the extensive use of isolation be used against children, nor should violence or force be used against children. It is unacceptable - the behavior that we saw on Four Corners on Monday night is unacceptable and it is important to hold the individuals who engaged in acts of violence and so on responsible, but there is a problem with a system that allows this sort of treatment of children, and there is a problem with a society that sees so many children in the juvenile justice system. And frankly, there is a broader problem with our society which is that it is more likely that a young Indigenous man goes to jail than goes to university. This is a broader issue of Indigenous incarceration.

FANNING: Alright, I want to talk about mechanical devices because the Northern Territory Assembly put those devices in the hands of those prison guards. I read the second reading speech for the Youth Justice Amendment Bill which legalised the use of mechanical devices; I want to take you to the words of Labor’s Natasha Fyles, Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General. She never at any point says, “this is outrageous” and this is her conclusion, she says: “clearly the legislators drafting the Youth Act saw the use of body restraints on youth for general purposes and maintaining good order and discipline, we feel that principal should not be let go of lightly. The concerning thing,” she says with the proposed amendments, “is the continuing ambiguity of the circumstances where the constraints can be used”. So, I mean, where does Labor stand on this? You think it’s abhorrent – your face was just a mask of disgust when I asked you that question, and yet, Territory Labor is squabbling about when and how they should be used?

PLIBERSEK:  Look, I can’t answer for all of the details that took place during the debate of that Territory legislation. Are there circumstances where you need to stop someone hurting themselves? We use straight jackets for example, that kind of thing in the health system, I would -

FANNING: No, no, no – she knew what they were talking about. They were talking about mechanical chairs. She referred to it in the debate.

PLIBERSEK:  I haven’t read the debate. And I’m not going to make any excuses for it, I think those devices are absolutely shocking. But, like I say, it’s impossible to expect me to answer for what everybody said in the debate in a Territory Parliament.

FANNING: The Attorney General, George Brandis said on 7:30 last night he’s got draft terms of reference, he does propose to take this beyond the Northern Territory. Can I ask whether the Opposition has had any input into that process?

PLIBERSEK:  Our Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus has spoken with George Brandis, I have written – I’m the Acting Leader this week – I’ve written to Malcolm Turnbull urging that it’s very important that this enquiry goes beyond the Don Dale facility, that it looks at the whole of the juvenile justice system -

FANNING: In the NT or in the whole of Australia?

PLIBERSEK:  In the Northern Territory, and indeed if there is a case for other states to be involved, we’re very open to looking at other states and territories. What I would say is in the short term, immediately, we have to make sure that the kids and young people that were shown on Monday night are safe, safe right now, because we know that they weren’t safe when this footage was taken, we know that the facility was not appropriately caring for them and protecting them, we know that whistleblowers often cop a pretty hard time after they’ve exposed this sort of behaviour, we need to ensure their safety immediately. We then need to look at the juvenile justice system – how the system itself is operating – and what is it that is funneling so many kids into this system? We need to look at alternatives, like the justice reinvestment project in Bourke, making sure that we are reducing incarceration rates, and also we reduce offending rates.

FANNING: Well Adam Giles says he wants to build a new juvenile justice facility – will that be iced while all this goes on?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I think the conditions in that facility probably do need to be improved immediately, and maybe they could put a school in there as well so that when young people get out of juvenile justice they’ve actually got an education and some skills.

FANNING: We will come to your education portfolio in just a moment but what we have learned from all of this is places where the light doesn’t shine amongst marginalised people, there is always the potential for abuse and I can’t think of a more fitting description of offshore detention centres than that I’ve just given, “places where the light doesn’t shine with vulnerable people”, should those centres be included in the terms of reference? Children are in detention there.

PLIBERSEK:  Well I think those places absolutely need greater transparency and greater scrutiny, and that’s why before the last election Labor said that we would do everything we could to allow better access, including to journalists, to those facilities, and to ensure that we had an independent childrens commissioner whose sole job it was to look after the interests of children who are in those circumstances

FANNING: And that’s a better option than including it in the Royal Commission terms of reference?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, you’re talking about other countries. Our Royal Commissions don’t operate in countries that have their own legal systems, so we can do what we can do to shed greater light and insist on greater accountability.

FANNING: Now you’ve moved from Foreign Affairs to head up Labor’s Education team. As Deputy Leader you’re supposed to be allowed to pick your portfolio, so you must have specific things that you want to achieve?

PLIBERSEK:  Absolutely. I think education – I loved the foreign affairs portfolio, it was very interesting, I enjoyed it very much, but education has always been a passion of mine and for two reasons really - because the individuals who, you know every kid in Australia deserves a decent education, every child deserves a decent education and it’s the best ticket out of poverty and out of disadvantage that we have. But it’s also really important for us as a nation. If we invest in education, we can be an innovation nation; we can prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. It’s the key to greater productivity and greater prosperity for Australia. So, both for the individual power that education has, and for the importance of it as a driver of our national prosperity, I think it’s an incomparable portfolio to take on.

FANNING: Over schools around the place, you still see the signs ‘Give a Gonski’.  Would you ever compromise with the Government over the Gonski funding, to get more funds flowing?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, what compromise are they offering?  They’ve cut $29 billion over the decade from our schools system. There is no compromise on offer here.  They say that they’ve met their responsibilities as far as, you know Christopher Pyne said they’re on a unity ticket with Labor on Gonski school education funding.  They said no school would be worse off under them – well they’ve cut $29 billion.  Where is the room for compromise? I will not resile from a needs-based funding system that says that every child in every school in every part of Australia deserves the very best education. This isn’t about the funding formula alone – it’s what that extra money buys.   It buys more specialist teaching.  It buys early intervention for kids who are falling behind.  It buys extension programs for kids who are bright and to keep them engaged in schooling. It buys extra-curricular activity – languages, music – it makes schools a place that kids want to be.  We are falling behind internationally.  We are slipping in all of the rankings – around literacy, around numeracy, around science.  We need to reverse that.

FANNING: I can imagine you going into the new office, education minister, opening the cupboard and there’s a little bit of a mess in the cupboard, and that is Labor’s past policy decisions in higher ed, uncapping university places which the Group of Eight want to end, student loans for vocational education and training’s been a disaster. We’ve seen Labor move to moderate these policies recently.  Can we expect further changes on those, just briefly?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I’m actually really proud of the fact that there’s 190,000 extra undergraduate students at our universities because of Labor. That one in four of the 750,000 or so undergraduate places is because Labor made it easier for kids to be the first in their family to go to university.  I’m proud of that.  Just as Gough Whitlam made it possible for a generation of Australians who never pictured themselves at university, to go to university, we need to keep extending the opportunity that university offers to kids who will be the first in their family, from low SES backgrounds, and so on.

FANNING: And vocational education?

PLIBERSEK:  Vocational education, absolutely. The dodgy colleges who are ripping students off need to be brought to heel and in fact a number of them should be closed. They are money-making factories for unscrupulous people -

FANNING: Propped up by these student loans schemes.

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely.

FANNING: Not such a great idea, hey.

PLIBERSEK:  No, it’s a great idea for colleges who are working properly.  There are some providers, including and I’d say TAFE first among them that offer a great quality, affordable education that people can dip into throughout their lives to upgrade their skills, to get a second chance.  The fact that there are unscrupulous people operating in this sector doesn’t mean that the vocational education sector is wrong, it means we have to crack down on those unscrupulous operators, crack down in the hardest possible way on people who are ripping off some very vulnerable students.

FANNING: Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for making time.

PLIBERSEK:  Thank you.



TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Wednesday 27 July 2016








SUBJECTS: Labor's plan for schools; Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; Kevin Rudd's nominatino for UN Sectretary-General.


JOHN FARRELL, PRINCIPAL: Good morning everybody and I'd especially like to welcome Tanya and Andrew to Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School at Waterloo which we are very proud of as a school that has benefited from needs-based funding, but have appreciated the autonomy to be able to make the decisions that are required to help our children achieve the very best potential across the spectrum.  And our community here at Waterloo is an incredible community, we are very fortunate to work with the children that we work with each day and the families we get to meet and work with each day. There is another issue in the community which is an important one at the moment and it's the destruction of the towers, the public housing in Redfern and Waterloo which certainly, the accommodation needs to be upgraded, but it's so paramount that our families are given affordable alternatives as they so wish to remain in the area and we're very much hoping to help our families through that transition period as well. So, welcome Tanya and Andrew and we're very pleased to have you here at our school. 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Principal John Farrell and thank you to the community here at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel school. We've had a great tour around from the school leaders and we've also of course met with a kindy class who are doing a great job today on their maths. They were drawing equal groups of shapes and showing their foundational mathematics skills as they were doing it, as well as foundational writing skills.

Today, at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel you see a school that has already benefited from increased needs based funding. This is a school that serves a very diverse community. It's in the heart of a very low socio-economic area, which means that a lot of the kids who start have parents who haven't had a lot of education opportunities or advantages before they start school. In fact I remember when I first met Mr Farrell here, he was pretty new at the school and he loved the school then as he does now, but he told me all those years ago that he was quite surprised that he was seeing children starting school who didn't really know how to look at a book, didn't know which way around it went, didn't know how to hold a pencil or use scissors, or any of the skills that you would expect kindy kids to start school with if they've had a decent pre-school education or the opportunity to go to play group and so on. If those children start school behind their peers, the danger of course is that they'll go throughout their schooling careers falling further and further behind with their confidence and their skills really under pressure.  So the Gonski needs-based funding in this school has allowed Mr Farrell and the school community to pick up on those kids who are at risk of falling behind and invest in them to make sure that they are brought up to the standard of their peers, to make sure that their opportunity to learn is as great as the opportunity of any other child. Mr Farrell has been talking about extra teachers, teacher’s aides, occupational therapists, speech therapists. And in a moment, I'll get him to tell you about a little bit more about those outside specialties and the way they have been brought into the school and the way they operate here. I just want to make this clear point: this school is already benefiting because of extra needs-based funding. Schools like this around Australia are already benefiting because of extra needs-based funding. That is all at risk if the Liberal Government continue with their plan to cut $29 billion from needs-based funding for our schools over coming years. Schools like this will struggle. Students like the ones we met today will struggle unless we continue to invest in the extra teaching and learning opportunities that they need to catch up with and keep up with their peers. I want to make this broader economic point as well; unless we invest in education, this nation cannot be an innovation nation, we cannot see this nation prosper, we cannot see the sort of discovery, innovation, increases in productivity that we want to see for this country unless we invest in education. Australia used to be a leading country in educational outcomes, in maths, in science, in literacy and we fall further and further behind because nations that we are competing with globally are investing more and they are doing it smarter than we are. Labor began to right this wrong with the Gonski needs-based funding system. We must continue on this path of investing more and investing smarter and increasing the results that we are see from our kids, from our schools, to make sure that we remain globally competitive.

Mr Farrell could I ask you just to talk briefly about the occupational therapy and speech pathology that the kids are getting at the school and the difference it’s making?

FARRELL: Thanks Tanya.

We have been very fortunate to be able to have the funding available to make some early interventions with our kindergarten children with speech therapists and occupational therapists. These specialists are able to attend sessions with our children twice a week and we ensure that we have a staff member with these specialists so that we are able to build the capacity of our staff to be able to be able to continue those interventions throughout the week. We know that you get real change, you get real developments in the children's capacity when they have the interventions consistently over the week.  If these interventions did not happen our children would fall further behind. We had evidence today, our children are doing incredibly with the support and with the expert teaching as well. It is so important to have that personnel being able to implement interventions that we need.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Mr Farrell. Andrew, did you want to say a few words?

ANDREW GILES, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS: Thanks very much Tanya, it is very hard to follow John's words and indeed yours, but I think it is important to make a couple of additional observations. Firstly, as a Melbournian how pleased I am to be in your electorate Tanya, and to see blue sky for the first time in quite a while. But also just to touch on what a great privilege it is to visit this very special school community and to emphasise this: while it is one thing to understand what the reports and the evidence tell us about the importance of needs-based funding, it's quite another thing to see it on the ground. To see it in the classroom and to hear it from the student leaders at this school. It has really demonstrated to me how critical it is going to be over the life of this Parliament to tell the stories of schools and school communities like this. To give voice to the hopes and the aspirations of the kids we have met today and the wonderful teachers who support them, who need needs-based funding, who need a Government that is prepared to invest in their future and all of our future. So thank you very much for coming to hear a bit about this today.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Andrew. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: On the issue of a Royal Commission into detention centres in the Northern Territory, the Prime Minister revealed this morning that it would be limited to just the Northern Territory, are you satisfied with that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is very early to be making such decisions. I think that it would be in fact much wiser for the Government to work with the Opposition, for the Government to work with the Government of the Northern Territory and also the Northern Territory Opposition to draft a terms of reference that do look at the whole of the Northern Territory juvenile justice system. If during the next few days and weeks evidence emerges that this is a problem that is more broad-spread than what we saw on Monday night in the Northern Territory, I think that it is very important for the Government to be open to looking more broadly at the juvenile justice systems in other states and across the country. We need to be aware that over the next few days and next few weeks, more information might emerge. The Government would be wise to just pause now and to be open to terms of reference that actually allow us to get to the bottom of some of the systemic failings in juvenile justice.

JOURNALIST: You could always extend the terms of reference later, it's quite common isn't it?

I think it is possible that in 6 months or a year the terms of reference could be expanded to look at other states and territories. I just think it's very important that in the first few days after revelations like this, we're looking at possible terms of reference for the Northern Territory, but we should be aware that further evidence might come to light, further evidence that this is a problem not just in the Northern Territory but elsewhere, and in that case we have to be open to looking at other states and territories.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister is in Cairns today on a Border Force boat to celebrate what he says is 2 years since a successful people smuggling operation has made it to Australia.  Is that true and is it something to celebrate?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think what it shows is if the Liberals had been prepared to work with Labor on our proposed arrangement with Malaysia we could've made a difference much earlier than this.

JOURNALIST: But is it something then to mark, positively?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think we're all pleased that we haven't seen further loss of lives at sea, at the same time we have to understand that globally we see well over 60 million displaced people. Australia has made commitments for example to take more people from Syria, we don't seem to have fulfilled our commitments in that respect yet - so I think celebration is not the word I would use. 

JOURNALIST: Just on Kevin Rudd as well, Julie Bishop's come out and said that he'd be a good fit for the UN top job. What are your thoughts on his, I guess, would he be a good fit for that role?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course he would be, I mean he's a distinguished former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and I think most Australians would be surprised to think that anybody in the Government is considering not backing an Australian candidate for such an important international role.

JOURNALIST: Do you know what happened with Peter Costello and the IMF? There's some suggestion that when Labor was in government they didn't promote his aspirations there.

PLIBERSEK: Well I don't know whether Peter Costello ever came to us with a proposal that he should be supported for the IMF. We supported him for appointment to the Future Fund, which is a very responsible domestic position. He asked for that, we supported his, we supported him in that aspiration, I think it's a bit difficult to support someone for a job they've never applied for - as far as I know. If someone can show me evidence of something different, I'd be interested to see it. Thanks everyone.




TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Melbourne, Tuesday 26 July 2016










SUBJECTS: Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; Needs-based school funding.


TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks very much for coming out today. I wanted to start with a few comments about the shocking story on Four Corners last night. I think any Australian, any human being anywhere would have been shocked by the footage that Four Corners obtained of children in detention being beaten, isolated and gassed.  

It's impossible to think that this has been happening in Australia, in the Northern Territory for a number of years. Of course Labor supports the Royal Commission that's been proposed by the Prime Minister today. It is absolutely vital that we get to the bottom of what was happening in this detention facility.  

Of course, over the next few days we would expect consultation with the Government on the terms of the Royal Commission, on the Royal Commissioner who will be appointed.

I think there is, over the next few days and over coming weeks, something else that will happen in our Australian community which is a broader and deeper discussion of how it is that 10 and 12-year-old children end up in the juvenile justice system. We need to look at the system in the Northern Territory, at the particular institution, the actions of the people who are employed there, what the Government knew - all of these questions will be asked, but I think we have really a deeper responsibility as a society and as a community to ask ourselves how it is that 10, 11-year-old boys ended up in the juvenile justice system in the first place. How have they been let down by the broader community, by schools, by their families? What is it that's led them to the troubled lives and the behaviour that's taken them into contact with the juvenile justice system?

I'm going to ask Mark Dreyfus to say a few words about the Royal Commission and also about the Indigenous justice targets that Labor has suggested be included in the Closing the Gap strategy, because while ever we live in a country where it is more likely that a young Indigenous man ends up in jail than in university, we need to take a systemic approach to reducing rates of incarceration and rates of offending in the first place. Thanks Mark.

MARK DREYFUS, SHADOWN ATTORNEY-GENERAL: This has been a great shock to I think, any right thinking Australian, the footage that we saw on the Four Corners program last night. It's why Labor has straight away backed the Government's announcement that there is to be a Royal Commission.

What we would urge on the Government is that it be a full examination of the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. It shouldn't just be confined to the particular prison where these young boys were kept, in fact where these young boys were tortured. We need to make sure that it's a systemic inquiry.

During the election campaign, Labor announced our commitment to introduce as part of Closing the Gap, justice targets for the Indigenous community of Australia, and with that we announced our commitment also to look much more closely at schemes that are referred to as justice re-investment. Something that has been already tried by the community of Bourke in NSW, that the South Australian Government is prepared to support, some investigations of it, and we think that this approach of looking at alternatives to imprisonment is something that is essential.

It doesn't mean being soft on crime in any way. It means that we have to look hard at whether or not we should continue to invest huge sums in jailing very, very high numbers of Indigenous people and particularly Indigenous young people across Australia. Quite possibly it would be a far better investment and that's why it's called justice re-investment, it would be a far better investment to explore community-based options, other options to move Indigenous young people away from a path of crime into more fruitful lives in the community.

PLIBERSEK: Any questions?

JOURNALIST:  You said you would consult with the Government on the Terms of Reference. At this early stage, how broad would you like the terms of the reference be?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, we shouldn't decide the terms of reference of a Royal Commission by press conference, but what we would say generally is that it seems that this abuse has occurred in one particular facility. We would like a Royal Commission to look more broadly at the system, the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. We want to examine whether similar things are happening in other places. We want to make sure that we look at the pathways that these young people have followed that mean that they're in juvenile justice at such early ages, and we want to examine whether there are better alternatives than seeing such young children in this sort of detention.

JOURNALIST:  Do you think maybe it should go further than just the Northern Territory then and look at other places in Australia of youth detention centres across Australia?


PLIBERSEK: Well, I think we need to take this one step at a time and in the first instance examine what is clearly completely unacceptable treatment of young people in these facilities in the Northern Territory, and we'll be looking with the Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government at the terms of reference over coming weeks.


JOURNALIST:  Do you believe Northern Territory officials knew enough information to act before this vision was aired last night on Four Corners?


PLIBERSEK: Well, certainly I can't answer that question. I think that is exactly the sort of question a Royal Commission would look at.


JOURNALIST:  Should the Royal Commission look at the incarceration of Indigenous people more broadly, so either adults or children?


PLIBERSEK: Well, again I'd say that it is important not to try and draft the terms of reference of a Royal Commission like this on the run. We need to sit down with the Commonwealth Government, with the Northern Territory Government and look at preliminary investigations and evidence to decide the proper terms of reference. It's important to take this approach - methodically. A royal commission is something that is not done lightly, it has extraordinary powers, it's important to ask questions that can really lead to systemic changes, to the righting of systemic wrongs. Mark, do you want to add a little bit to that?


DREYFUS: Only to say that the criminal justice system is intended to serve a purpose, it's intended to serve the purpose of preventing crime, of protecting our community from crime, and to have an inquiry that merely looked at conditions in jails in the Northern Territory in detention centres in the Northern Territory doesn't actually answer all of the questions that we want answered here, which includes why are there so many young Aboriginal boys in detention in the first place? What were the alternatives to them going into detention in these conditions? So it's not just the conditions under which they were kept and the dreadful treatment that was meted out to them, it's also the preliminary questions, the first questions, which are why were they there in the first place? Were there possibilities of them not going there? What else could be done? And that necessarily demands a wider inquiry certainly than just looking at the centre but we would suggest also, and I agree with Tanya, that we don't wish to draft here in a press conference, but we think this inquiry should be looking at the criminal justice system as a whole in the Northern Territory. 


JOURNALIST:  But that's not just an issue for the NT, WA also has quite high levels of young Indigenous incarcerations, so do you think there is a value at in looking in it at any other level because it isn't just an NT issue?


PLIBERSEK: Let's just take this one step at a time. Today we are focused on incredibly disturbing footage that was released last night on Four Corners. In the process of developing terms of reference, no doubt there'll be greater attention and scrutiny of the Northern Territory system. If other issues emerge, then they can be considered over coming days.


JOURNALIST:  Barnaby Joyce has said that the broader the terms of reference, the longer it's going to take. Is there a concern that if it becomes too broad, then the commission's not going to be able to zero in on the abuse at Don Dale itself?


PLIBERSEK: Well, again, I don't think it's productive to have that sort of speculation at this very early stage. We need to be methodical and sensible about the way we take this on. Of course we need to look at this particular institution and the failures that allowed this sort of treatment of children to occur. But we need to put that in a setting, in a context, as Mark has described, and look at the broader juvenile justice system because that gives us some answers about alternatives and systemic failures that have allowed this sort of abuse. OK. We might go to education now, if that's OK?

It's great to be here with Andrew Giles, who is assisting me with the schools part of the education portfolio, and with Tim Watts who is the local Member for this magnificent school. I want to thank the Principal, Brendan for having us here today and the school leaders who have shown us all around the school, and all of the terrific kids who we have met on the visit.

We were very lucky to see both a music classroom and a maths lesson, in an early stages classroom today. And, I guess there's a couple of things I'd say about this, the sort of music teaching that I saw today really would make coming to school a joy for many kids and it is exactly the sort of enrichment activity that a needs-based funding system allows.

We then went into the maths classroom, or the prep classroom, and saw the young children studying maths telling us their maths stories and using their storytelling to show us their ability to add, and do addition. We know that Australia has actually been going backwards on all of the international measures on how we do in mathematics and numeracy. It is a real challenge for us as a nation, because we know that the jobs of the future, the sort of industries that we'll see growing in Australia in years to come, the sort of jobs that involve mathematics, coding, numeracy, science-based learning, computational thinking, they're the sort of jobs that will be the high paying jobs of the future.

Seeing these basic maths skills taught so well by these dedicated teachers is a real key to understanding what we have to do more of in the future to make sure that our schooling system stops falling behind on these international measures. We've seen in Australia in recent years, Australia going from being at the top of the league table, near the top of the league tables, in maths, in reading, in writing, falling through every testing cycle lower and lower on international rankings. It is completely unacceptable. The reason that Labor undertook the Gonski school education review, the reason why we committed in the first instance to a needs-based funding system is because we know that every Australian child, in every school, in every part of Australia, deserves every opportunity to succeed.

Today we saw the music lesson that gives kids a new way of engaging at school, makes enthusiastic learners, helps them learn the fundamentals of music and perhaps discover a talent in a child that they never knew they had, makes them confident learners. And we saw foundational skills like addition in the mathematics lesson that are absolutely necessary for kids to get the basics right. Unless we have a decent needs-based funding system the sort of extra support that schools like this have received in the last couple of years, that have allowed extension activities, that have allowed teachers to upgrade their skills, that have allowed investment in catch-up lessons for kids who are falling behind and extension lessons for kids who are really good at a particular subject, to keep them interested and engaged. We can't do that without a needs-based funding system that Labor is committed to.

Over the next three years, Labor will be saying every single day that the choice is clear: you can have a Liberal Government that is prepared to cut $29 Billion from Australian schools or you can have a Labor Government that will invest in needs-based funding, so that every child, in every school, can get every opportunity. It's really important that individual kids, the kids that are falling behind to get the extra
individual teaching that allows them to catch up so that they, as soon as any problem with their learning is identified, we can invest in them and bring them up to the same speed as their peers. It is really important for kids who are gifted or talented to have those gifts explored, to give them the excitement of being able to keep developing the skills that they have.

It is really important for individual kids because a great education is the golden ticket, it is the key to a lifetime of opportunity. But it is really important for our nation too. There is no way that we can be an innovation nation unless we are an education nation. There is no way that we can be economically successful, that we can prepare our young people for the jobs of the future unless we invest in education. Every economist will tell you that this sort of investment will increase our prosperity as a nation over time. So both for the individuals that get a better education and for the future of our nation, this investment is absolutely critical and we will continue to make the case every single day for a needs-based funding system that meets the needs of every Australian child.


I am going to ask Andrew to say a few words because this is his first outing as my assistant minister.


ANDREW GILES, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS: Thank you very much Tanya. It is a real honour to be Tanya's assistant in this important policy area and I would like to thank Bill Shorten for giving me this extraordinary opportunity and in making education a real priority for Labor in this term in Parliament. I would also like to acknowledge the amazing work of Kate Ellis and Amanda Rishworth in the last term in building on the solid foundations Labor set in Government through the Gonski review and starting on its implementation. 


As Tanya has just outlined, needs-based education is vital to the well-being of Australian students but also to the well-being of Australia's economy [inaudible]. And today, at Footscray West Primary School which has been great to visit with my colleague, Tim Watts, we've seen some prep-kids [inaudible]. Two amazing reminders of just how important it is that we get it right. That we deliver funding for schools based on the needs of the individual students. As Tanya has said, this is vital for those students, it is vital for their [inaudible]. But as Labor knows, as we will explain to the Australian people every day over the life of this Parliament, it is vital to securing Australia's living standards. The choice that we are going to be putting forward, that we have been putting forward, is pretty clear - between corporate tax-cuts or investing in Australia's greatest renewable resource, people. 


TIM WATTS, MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Well thank you Tanya and Andrew. I am thrilled to be able to welcome Labor's new Shadow Education team to Footscray West Primary School, in their centenary year, on this marvellous Melbourne morning. I thank the principal Brendan Miller and the student leaders, Lily-Rose and Harvey for showing us around the school and the excellent work that their teachers are doing in giving them every opportunity in the future. And I am really particularly thrilled that Tanya and Andrew were able to see an important part of the needs-based schools funding story - and that's the extra help that it gives to kids from non-English speaking backgrounds. The importance of this was sheeted home to me recently when I was taking my daughter to school just down the road in Footscray to start prep earlier this year and I was at the school gate talking to another Dad and I leaned over to him and said "How are you settling in? How are the kids going?". And he said that he was really worried because in his home, they didn't speak English at home, they were new arrivals in Australia and he was concerned that his child wouldn't be able to keep up with the other new kids starting prep that year. I was really proud to be able to tell him that Labor's needs-based schools funding formula would give his kids the additional help they need so that they can realise every opportunity in the same way as every other student. In the electorate that I represent, around two-thirds of my constituents were born overseas or have a parent born overseas. So in Melbourne's West, we get the importance of needs-based schools funding on a really fundamental level. So in that respect, I am really thrilled to be able to welcome Tanya and Andrew here today to see this first hand. As I was thrilled to welcome Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis to this school some months ago to see the work first hand as well. So I am very enthusiastic about continuing the policy work that Labor has done over the last 3 years and continuing to put forward that very important policy choice to everyone in Melbourne's West. 


Thank you.


TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Tuesday 19 July




SUBJECTS: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's new Cabinet; the representation of women in Parliament; the nomination of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as UN Secretary-General; US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Australia;  Sonia Krugers comments

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